Farewell to Mrs O
It's looking increasingly likely that the female osprey, Mrs O, has left Peeblesshire to begin her migration. The last sighting of her was on 8 August and she has not been seen at the nest area since or near her offspring. The osprey season will soon be drawing to a close once more for the year as birds begin to leave us. The first to go are usually the non-breeders and females who have finished raising their family, whose hard work is now done. Mrs O will have been feeding herself and getting back into condition in readiness for her long flight south. We will miss her, wish her well and hope to see her return next spring to start a new family all over again.
Her offspring are still at the nest site. They are capable fliers now and their Dad, PW3 is still bringing fish to the nest for them to feed. His visits are so swift, he merely drops off a fish and leaves. For the past week it has been the very lucky Talla that has been the sole recipient of the fish whenever the cameras have been on, with an extremely hungry and disgruntled Megget squawking and beseeching for a share but not getting any. They don’t sit on the platform much now unless it is to feed but mostly perch on the higher trees and tree stump posts of the lopped pines around the nest site. This gives them the advantage of height to see when their dad is coming in with a fish and to learn what direction he is coming from. The longest journey away from the nest area has been by Megget, to a distance of 1.79km over the top of the hills, to a height of 500m, on 17 August. Down below she would have been able to see the River Tweed snaking its way along to Peebles. So she will have glimpsed a water body for the first time, which could be her hunting ground for the future when she finally begins to hunt for herself. Hunger is most likely what drove her away from the nest, as she has not been able to share Talla’s fish. But she has got to start to find her own way and hunt for herself soon, so this is all just the natural process towards independence. Talla has yet to be as bold but hanging around the nest area is still paying off which means there is less drive to leave.
The young ospreys are likely to stay until about the second week of September and the trigger which will set them off on their migration will be the dwindling length of daylight hours as our summertime comes to a close. Each osprey will leave independently and make their own way south. It will be interesting to follow their journeys from the tracking data when they leave. Increasingly, we have discovered that not all migrate as far as Gambia and Senegal in West Africa as more birds are overwintering in Spain and Portugal. But wherever they go to, their first migration is the most treacherous of their lives with many hazards to negotiate without any experience to help them make decisions on their journey. Pure instinct, good weather and good luck will determine how well they fare.
When the nest is empty other wildlife have been popping on to the platform looking for scraps, the jay being the most frequent visitor, looking very relaxed hopping around searching for scraps. On 15 August, two cute red squirrels were clambering about in the Scots pine tree below the osprey nest and racing along the branches, diving back down the trunk, climbing back up, chasing each other. The tree itself is looking fairly pale and skeletal, the osprey nest pine tree is starting to die and there is less and less greenery on it each year. Hopefully they will get a few more years from it to continue nesting before Tony and Eve from Forestry and Land Scotland have to build a new platform close by. They will assess the safety of the tree at the end of the season to decide whether it will be strong enough to hold the nest for another season.
PW5, the sister of PW3 (Megget and Talla’s dad), has had a successful season and we have heard that she has raised a chick in Ayrshire this summer which is more good news for a Borders born bird. The ‘west of Peebles nest’ young ospreys (blue 681 and 682) have fledged now too. They are about two weeks younger than the main nest young and have been seen testing out their newly found flight techniques whereby one seems to have decided to land in the same place as the one already perched, leading to a very startled bird looking up in alarm and almost thrown off balance. Not great when the perch is about 35m high at the top of a very tall pine. One of the adults is still seen regularly bringing fish for the youngsters there too.